Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Random. So be it!

I am suppose to be finishing an important piece of writing describing my times in form of a story. Instead, i am making these random notes on a cold morning, is fun, as you do not know where to start and where you will be lead, you are not making sense, and you are not trying to make sense, you are just typing in, and there is no qualification to what you are writing, just free flow of thoughts, and then you put it up, like the way it is written: randomly.

I have caged my mind. I am trying not to think anything. I am thinking not to try to think anything. I am not trying to think of a thought that is bothering me for now more than a year. I have not been able to deal with it, effectively. This thought is powerful, it casts its shadow on everything else I do.  I am occupied by this thought. The more i resist not to think about it the more powerful it becomes. So now I accept it. It is there and menifests in various ways. It has had a toll on me. So be it. I am not expecting anything. Nor I am denying anything. I am not dismissing it, either. I am just not trying anything. 

So now I close my eyes and try think about things that needs to be done. 

I realize that I take so much of liberties with myself. I am unaware. I am in the dark. I am not in control of anything. Sometimes, I am not even a witness to my time, hours roll by and I am not doing anything. But yet seem busy for i don't register the flight of time. That should make me a saint, i am hooked on to my own integral self. Surely that is not the case. There is no consciousness. 

I am kind of consumed in my own darkness. And that darkness has engulfed my being because I am not seeking light. There is some good quality to that darkness. It is soothing. There is no tunnel. Therefore no light at the end of the tunnel. I do not need tunnel to be with light. I just need to want light. But I seem to be enjoying this darkness. It is theraputic. And I am subconsciously driven into deeper darkness, light is fading away. That makes me sound like a jerk, drugged and doped.

Now that will change because i am going to light a diya everyday. I will not fight darkness because it is nothing, and you cannot fight something that is nothing, something that does not exist, all you need to do is get some light, light diyas, many diyas, i will light many diyas. All i seek is light in life. Darkness has made me drowsy.   

Apply mind! That is so boring, everyone is trying hard to apply their mind into mindless. So for a change i will apply my mind into things that you might feel happy about. Don’t be pressurized about anything, even about applying my mind.

There are things that are not happening in your life but there are other wonderful things happening, life is a tradeoff. But there are reasons for things not happening and the same are the reasons for other things to happen. I am tempted to believe that something far more important is happening in this denial. But there is a need for this thing that is not happening in my life to happen so that I am at the next level of mundane existence. So to make these things happen, try, to increase my realm of consciousness. 

Do things differently so there are all the chances that things will happen differently. At the sametime I am trying to be indifferent about the outcome.  

I am suffering by not suffering too much for my own reasons. So I cannot blame anyone else for it. 

I have a New Year resolution: Don’t be random about things, be aware. Now that I am aware: I am the person I hate the most. This year it has to change this sad fact of life. I have to be the person I am indifferent about. I am perhaps trying too hard, or am not trying at all, kind of confused. So be it!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

I Am Blessed

They, God fearing, believe you get an audience with God only if you are destined, and destiny is God’s sweet will. So simply said, you see God’s physical manifestation on earth, if and only if, S/He wants it. By God’s physical manifestation I mean certain select temples, mosques, churches or religious ceremonies.
I am a God loving person not motivated enough to visit God’s physical manifestation on earth, though most are easily accessible. Because: I respect God and believe S/He knows all, is everywhere, one place can't be more sacred than the other. Just by spending (lot of) money (this is not to discount the fact that most of the charity happens in the name of religion) and bearing enormous physical discomfiture, S/He is not going get impressed to shower out of turn booty that was otherwise suppose to go to a neighbour. 
But religion is not about logic. In fact religion starts where the logic ends. But I am not going to shed logic so easily. To me God is there. Notionally S/He guides me, somehow. No. Not just that. That fact that he is there, the presence i feel, like S/He is behind me, standing close, assuring: do what you have to, I am there for you, in good and bad times. Though, I feel God clearer in bad times. "Tum mere paas hote ho goya / Jab koi doosra nahi hota" as great Urdu poet Mohin Khan Momin has said.
I have no qualms in acknowledging something that will not come as surprise for anyone: I am a sinner. I don’t go to any place of worship where people congregate with their long list of grievances. But strangely, I end up time and again doing things ‘supposedly’ in the service of God, by sheer coincidence or thanks to certain circumstance that are unavoidable. I am tempted to believe that I am the preferred one by the God. Or is S/He is teasing me? 
Last week, I was made to participate in langar (sacred food service) at a Sai Baba temple in Noida for four hours, reluctantly, that became utter disgust, and then when I reconciled to the fact that things happen because they have to, so i don’t need to try hard to reason out things, in this case, just distribute puris to never ending stream of people, rich and poor, old and young….
I was to accompany my sister to Sai Baba Temple at Sector 62 of Noida where she paid for a langar that fed about a 1,000 people for over four hours. She fooled me by telling that it will just be a ten-minutes affair, and promised me a grand dinner afterwards. I was to look after my niece, who happens to be my sister’s daughter, and my mother, while she will indulge in this profound act of feeding people to thank Sai Baba for something good that happened to her recently. I realised at 6:30 pm that I cannot leave before ten -o’clock. My sister was categorical: “I will not leave till the last person is fed. You can go if you want and don’t create a scene here.” I looked at the entry door,  hundreds of devotees were  waiting for their turn to enter, made some enquires, it was confirmed to me that it was just a beginning. I was furious at my sister. But she did not budge. I couldn’t have left, for no religious reason, but simply because I couldn’t have left my three years old niece, who was making me run around, in the custody of my 70-years old mother on a cold evening, while my sister merrily distributed halwa-puri. So, I had to stay on in the service of Sai Baba. But, my niece, she is so cute, kind of helped me come over my helplessness about the situation.  She asked me a thousand questions, one of them was: “Who is Sai Baba?”
I blame Sai Baba for my predicament. I recited loudly: Jai Sai Ram tumney mughey fassaya! Sham-bhar mughasey puri batvaya (Hail Sai Baba you saddled me here; the whole evening you made me distribute puris). Some of the elderly folks, there perhaps to seek an easy way to salvation, were utterly disgusted to hear me. The younger lot smiled reluctantly, bemused they were, queued up for divine intervention to bring riches and other worldly pleasures in their mundane lives. The poor kids were there in large numbers for immediate divine intervention: food.
This is not the first time that I was graced in this fashion. I was travelling for a story on the Gir Loins to Gujarat some five years ago. I was on an overnight bus from Ahmedabad to Junagarh, was suppose to get off the bus at 5 am. I did not. I woke up at 7 am when the Bus made its final halt near Somnath Temple at the far tip of Gujarat over looking the Arabian Sea. No bus was to return before 9am. So I went to Somnath Temple felt blessed to hear morning chants there. This is the temple that was attacked in 1025 AD, some thousand years now, by an invader Mahmud Ghazni who plundered enormous wealth of the temple. This temple at that time housed over 300 musicians, 500 dancing girls and 300 barbers to shave the heads of pilgrims. Ghazni carried the booty on hundreds of elephant or camel or horses I am not sure. But what I am sure is that enormous wealth was plundered and looted.
Somnath Temple now stands with majestic ease overlooking Arabian Sea. The stones inside the temple are smoothened by the bare feet of pilgrims who visit in thousands everyday in trans-devotion. The faith hung thick in the sanctum like a profound smell of purity. I was connected to the temple’s past while mesmerised by its present, and thanked whoever was responsible to get me here.
As a child, I have been to Kedarnath and Badrinath temples with my parents some four times as part of our annual-summer-month-long trip to the Himalayas. I am an undeserving witness to an elaborate ritual held inside the Badrinath temple, with ten Brahmins reciting Vedic mantras while performing Rudra Abhishek (Rudra is Shiva being worshipped in the form of Linga or Lingam while Abhishek, a Hindi word that means 'installed as king' is performed with different articles like flowers, belpatra, milk, coconut water, honey, curd sugarcane juice..and more).
Then I have been to Varanasi’s Kashi Vishwanath temple with my aunt and witnessed a similar ritual. The prime reason to visit Varanasi was to buy sarees for my cousin’s wedding. I landed up in Jagannath Puri, in Orissa, by sheer coincidence was not planned. Reporting for a story took me to Haridwar, where I had company of few sadhus for a couple of days who gave me some useful tips about what is not spirituality (will discuss sometime later). I have been witness to largest congregation of humanity on earth, the Kumbha Mela at Allahabad, takes place ever 12 years, simply because I am a local.
I have had many close encounters in places where God is believed to be more accessible. People are able to make it to these places after lot of trouble; to me it happened by chance, and for some strange reason it keeps happening. 
Jai Sai Ram tumney mughey fassaya! Sham-bhar mughasey puri batvaya.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Happy Birthday

Last week was my birthday. Not that it is a news item that needs to be reported. This is to thank my dear friends, my brother and my two nephews who collectively made my birthday a special one. And my Family; I am mighty lucky to have them. My thoughts go to friends who called me, friends who text me, Facebook friends, and friends who forgot my birthday, and those who remembered but for some reason did not wish me, thanks all of you for making my birthday special. This year i had a special one.   

Some friends were conspicuous in their absence. They did not come for some avoidable reason will have to take me out for dinner (or for lunch, it is bright, sunny and cool in Delhi), individually, and give me two gifts instead of one. There are financial implications of giving my birthday bash a miss.

Birthday is when one gets undue attention. But there is a flip side to it. You have to add another year to your age (that is already fairly advance, soon people will stop calling me a young man)and have to tell people about it. It seems am crossing 30s faster than i did 20s.

I was confronted with question: "So how old are you?" abruptly when I was merrily describing my latest cover story for OPEN magazine ( Though, can’t say I wasn't expecting this question.
"What did i tell you last year? Just add one to it."  

"I didn't know you last year."

"Okay, I am 16."

And then after a l...o...n...g pause added  

'Into two" 

And then after l......o.....n....g...e....r pause: 

"add 'X' to it and then minus 'Y' and do it for 'n' times where 'n' tends to infinity."

Next year i will be X+1 and when i die, i will be X+ l where 'l' is the number of years in left in my life. 

"Okay now we know your age, senile!"

Last week was special also because i moved into a new flat in the same building i am living for last five years. It is bigger and brighter. I have done it up well, it looks fabulous. I have a big study that opens into a bigger balcony. I have declared it as an 'open' space where select friends, who under normal circumstances engage in something constructive and have no track record of causing collateral damage, are welcome to work from here, and hangout. 

I have made a new acquisition and added it to my long list of old furniture I buy dirt cheap. It is an extraordinarily long couch that sits elegantly in my study facing my artwork. My friends have called it a dream room. So I have created enabling infrastructure for creative pursuits. 

Now I can’t blame anyone or anything, or my fate, for my lethargy that is like a log of wood i carry on my back, makes me too slow.  

Anyways, have a look at some more soft images of my birthday bash courtesy my nephew Yash who tried to do something smart with his camera.



Monday, December 5, 2011

I Went Birdwatching!

 Photo: Jan Peters
I went bird watching a month ago. That was because my flat mate, Jan , presented me a pair of fabulous binoculars. He is avid birder who wants to explore the birds of Indian subcontinent. Now I had an incentive too. I had to do a field trial of my new binoculars. What better place to do it than in the seraphic green wilderness?
I woke up in wee hours of a Sunday morning and drove some 50 kilometers to reach Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary. This was a bold move considering my knowledge of birds is that of an average non-birder.

It was a visual delight. The birds seemed to be sitting in front of my nose, dense green foliage in the backdrop, an errant branch waving with the breeze in the foreground. I saw birds do things that I never would have observed otherwise, so closely and minutely, saw their eyes move, their restless ease, tilting of head, fluttering of wings, wagging of tail in a greater clarity than the reality. Binoculars are a fantastic optical instrument.
I was bewildered by the sheer varieties and number of birds present in the pond. Scores of painted stork were sitting on the trees at the far end of the pond, was a sight of delight. A pied kingfisher made several nose dives to fish, albeit with no success. It did not give up. Last seen, was still hovering close to the surface of the water.  The greater spotted eagle was perched on top of the highest branch of the tallest tree to the birders’ delight. Their conversation, though, was claptrap for me. They have a language of their own which I don’t understand. 

I left the group for some solitary interaction with the surroundings. The fresh air, the mist of the early morning, the earthen smell, seeping of sunlight down from the dense foliage, it was a complete picture of serenity. 

Binoculars redefined everything I saw through it. The clarity of sight brought clarity in thought. I sent a message confessing something to someone that I had already made obvious. Saying is confirming, felt good. 

My cousin Anshuman would be happy to know about my tryst with birding. He tried to initiate me to it some ten years ago. My lack of knowledge of birds (that fly) is a big hindrance and must confess (birds make me confess, now I know), I am still not motivated enough to enhance my knowledge. I need few more trips to the wilderness where birds love to flock, with my wonder instrument—binoculars-- till such a visit becomes a periodic need.